SUVA, Fiji (AFP) - Fiji police on Tuesday asked Interpol for help investigating whether graphic footage posted online claiming to show fishermen being shot dead at sea off the South Pacific nation was genuine.
The 10-minute video shows four men clinging to what appears to be an upturned boat as gunmen on at least three vessels circling around them open fire, eventually killing all of them.
The footage was posted on YouTube this week under the title "Fishing vessel fijian crew gettin shot, outside fiji waters".
Fiji Police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri said it was too early to say whether the footage was genuine and the authorities in Suva were seeking help from Interpol and other Pacific nations to test its veracity. "There is no clear evidence to identify the victims as Fijian citizens, nor is there a clear indication of where or when this gruesome incident took place," he told AFP. "Therefore the Fiji Police Force is seeking the assistance of Interpol and neighbouring police forces to help firmly establish the facts of this case."
Fiji is home to a large tuna fishing fleet, with many of the vessels from so-called "distant water" nations who ply the Pacific because it is one of the few regions where stocks, though declining, are still relatively abundant.
Interpreters hired by Television New Zealand said the languages of those on the video included Mandarin, Thai and Vietnamese, while the markings on one of the boats reportedly identify it as Taiwanese.
There is no indication in the footage of when or where the shootings took place.
Fairfax New Zealand, citing Fijian police sources, reported that a student found the footage on a mobile phone left in a Suva taxi by an Asian fishing boat crewman.